Radio chatter: Washington's signing of Vance Worley is Orioles' loss - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Radio chatter: Washington’s signing of Vance Worley is Orioles’ loss

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I hosted my second radio show on WOYK 1350 (in York, Pa.) Tuesday night, and, let me tell you, I’m really getting the hang of this broadcasting thing.

OK, not really.

For the second consecutive week, I went nearly 10 minutes longer than scheduled. I think it’s because we’re presenting such interesting content, and not simply because I’m verbose (my wife may argue otherwise).

You can listen to the whole show here – even the extra innings part — or download it as a podcast from iTunes.

Tuesday’s show featured a chat with my buddy Mel Antonen, a panelist on MASN’s Mid-Atlantic Sports Report, a Sirius/XM Radio host and a long-time baseball writer.

Mel and I knocked around several topics Tuesday. But the one that intrigued me the most was his take on the Washington Nationals signing of long reliever Vance Worley. He thinks the Orioles made a mistake not retaining Worley. And I agree – especially at the modest price tag.

Worley, 29, is not one of those dominating big-league pitchers who is going to carry you through the World Series. But he can serve an important role during a long season – particularly for an Orioles’ staff that is so fluid.

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Last season, Worley appeared in 35 games, starting four and finishing 13. He had a 3.53 ERA in 86 2/3 innings. “The Vanimal” always wanted the ball, never shying away from any situation. Eight times he pitched three or more innings in relief, allowing the bullpen to live another day.

Long reliever may be the most overlooked spot in baseball – rivaling situational lefty, utility infielder and backup catcher – but it can be invaluable. Given the way the Orioles use their bullpen, and the 2016 rotation’s difficulty to pitch deep into games, Worley earned his $2.6 million last year. He would have made more than $3 million in 2017, so the Orioles decided not to tender him a contract and, instead, acquired Logan Verrett, a younger and cheaper righty who has some experience in long relief.

When a team expects to shatter its franchise record for payroll, it faces tough secondary choices, and so Worley ended up as a salary casualty. It happens.

In fact, it happened last year when the Orioles decided not to pay Miguel Gonzalez his full salary and cut him in March. Gonzalez had a solid season with the Chicago White Sox and the Orioles spent much of last year looking for a fifth starter.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Worley’s departure, however, is that it didn’t take much for the Nationals to land him. He reportedly signed a minor-league deal that will pay him $1 million if he makes the club and includes $1.65 million in potential incentives. So, if everything goes right for Worley, he’ll make about what he did in 2016.

It makes you wonder why the Orioles couldn’t have topped that in guaranteed salary. The most likely answer is the club likes the flexibility it has with players such as Verrett and Tyler Wilson, who can be moved up and down from Triple-A to the majors without being exposed to waivers.

I get roster flexibility. I get the desire to keep payroll down by spending less for potentially the same production. But I also believe in track records and guys who have done a specific – and difficult — job effectively in the recent past.

I think, given the eventual financial terms, not retaining Worley was a mistake. Antonen believes the same thing. We, of course, have been wrong before. At least you won’t have to switch the TV channel around here in 2017 to see which team made the right call.

(Programming note: If you want to hear more of Antonen and me trading barbs and baseball theories, then come join us, and special guest Mike Bordick, former Oriole and current MASN broadcaster, next Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. for a free hot stove talk at Zion Lutheran Church on Brandywine Lane in York, Pa. I’ll have more details later today. But since Mel and I talked Tuesday, I didn’t want this opportunity to pass without mentioning the event now.)

 

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 1, 2017 at 7:52 am

    We passed on the Vanimal to save one million $? One stinkin’ MILLION? Did I miss something … is Dr. Evil running this team now? Did the team relocate to Milwaukee? What gives?

    • Bancells Moustache

      February 1, 2017 at 8:15 am

      As President of the Vanimal fanclub, I second my esteemed colleague Boog’s disdain for this whole affair.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 9:15 am

      They just didn’t pursue him particularly aggressively. Bottom line.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    February 1, 2017 at 8:30 am

    As displeased as I am about this, I’m convinced its a matter of Mr Worley not wishing to return, rather than the Orioles not wishing to retain. This seems to me like the Toronto Disaster is still burning the O’s. Looking at the dirt cheap price tag, coupled with his going to another contender a mere 30 minute drive down 295, and I have to think the Vanimal had no desire to return to Baltimore. Perhaps the decision to place Jimenez on the WC roster rather than Worley (a horrific move whose consequences circled the bases with an imaginary parrot on its blue-clad arm) may have stuck in his craw?

    • Bancells Moustache

      February 1, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Oh yeah, by the way, I worked On-Air for a few years before marching off to brawl with the Taliban. Your doing great. Just pack your punches a little tighter and keep one eye on the clock. Writing is being Chris Tillman. Radio is being Darren O Day

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 1, 2017 at 11:03 am

        Seeeeeeeee … I KNEW IT …. You ARE a pro!

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 1, 2017 at 11:05 am

        I almost forgot … a sincere thank you for your service my friend!

    • Paul Folkemer

      February 1, 2017 at 9:16 am

      You might have a point about Worley getting left off the Wild Card roster. I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled with that.

      Worley wasn’t very sharp in the second half, which might be a reason the O’s decided to cut ties with him. His ERA was over a run higher in the second half (4.14) and his strikeouts went down and his walks went up. It seemed like Buck lost faith in Worley by the end of the year. He made only five appearances in September.

      • marcshank

        February 2, 2017 at 11:13 pm

        I agree, especially about Showalter losing faith in Worley, but I believe it was right after the break. A lot of fans were mystified, especially because McFarland went south, as did O’Day. He just stopped using him and it was kind of a shock. And yes, maybe Bancellis was right, he knew he had a better shot down the road.

        I’ll miss him, especially how cheap he was. Also, the rotation is the Major’s major “If.” They could be the best in baseball and they could be the worst. But long relievers are at a premium and that furthers the mystery.

      • marcshank

        February 2, 2017 at 11:15 pm

        I’m wondering, Dan, if you couldn’t get a faster server. No insult intended but it takes forever, you know?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Thanks for the input. Just learning. Having fun with it though. Don’t want it to be scripted. But not as smooth on the fly as I thought I was.

  3. Creatively_19

    February 1, 2017 at 9:18 am

    The O’s use of Worley last year was puzzling to me to say the least. I remember we started the season not knowing if he would be a starter or not, as he started in the final exhibition game in Philly, but was pulled after 2 innings. He started 2 games in April which the O’s won both of, then was vanquished to the bullpen. As we all watched Wright and Wilson struggle with their starting roles, Worley stayed mostly on the bench. I feel like Worley not signing with the O’s is either about the O’s not wanting him or him not wanting to be an Oriole. It certainly doesn’t seem to be about the money.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Buck said repeatedly that he would have liked to start Worley more but he was so valuable as the long guy in place of a rotation that rarely went deep that he couldn’t move him from that spot. Not sure I agree with that philosophy, but that is the thinking

  4. JohnnyV1971

    February 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Vanimal was pissed the Orioles didn’t sign him out of the gate. I’m inclined to agree with him. he’s better than most guys in his “slot” . he’s the best of the pitchers “you have to manage properly” in order for them to succeed. like take them out Immediately after they show they are faltering. never letting them blow a ballgame. this keeps there ERA artificially low. Buck was awesome for Vanimal last year in that regard!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Agreed. But I think Worley’s ability to adjust whenever needed was fairly impressive. They’ll miss that part.

  5. Calvin95

    February 2, 2017 at 7:52 am

    My biggest problem with him Dan is not wearing his cap straight. I wish MLB would put a stop to this practice looks unprofessional to me.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 2, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      Calvin: this one never bothered me. Pedro Strop’s hat gave some fans fits. It never concerned me. I’m a stickler for some things, but not cap-wearing apparently.

  6. wirpls

    February 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Dan,

    My son just signed me up for your website.

    Good to see you are keeping in touch with the York area. Is the gig on WOYK preparing you for becoming the sports-talk voice on BAL someday??

    Good luck!!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 2, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Excellent. Welcome aboard. Just trying something a little different. It’s harder than it looks — or sounds.

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